James Marchment

Graphic and Web Design

Insects Unlocked

Logo and Website


Entomology for Everyone

In the Brackenridge Field Lab at the University of Texas, there is a collection of approximately two million insect specimens. Curated by Dr. Alex Wild, efforts are under way to create a modernized database of these specimens, making the scientific value of this vast collection accessible to the world. As part of the outreach initiative, high-resolution photos are being released into the public domain through the Insects Unlocked project.

Microscopes and Cameras

From January to June of 2016, I volunteered in the lab, photographing insects using the rail-mounted focus-stacking imaging system. This system uses a computer-controlled servo motor to move the camera precise distances -- accurate to 0.002mm -- in order to take multiple photos of objects at very high zoom. In macrophotography, depth of field becomes extremely narrow, and it is impossible to have all parts of an object in focus simultaneously. The solution is to create a series of images that can be knit together to create the appearanec of a larger depth of field. Using a software program called Zerene, the image series would be combined, and then finished in Photoshop for high-quality results.

Logo and Website

For the logo, the goal was to create something friendly and uncomplicated that would communicate the aims of the project: to make information about insects more accessible and to release images into the public domain. To fit with the name of the project, the image was settled on as a silhouette of a beetle combined with a padlock's open shackle. The design went through several iterations in order to get the shape and orientation of the legs correct while establishing the minimum of detail required to still look like an insect.

The website is a fully-responsive Wordpress-based site with custom post categories and an automatically-updating authors page with user-defined avatars. It allows members to be easily added with their own login information and flexible privileges regarding the posting and editing of site content. It includes a dynamic background image that cycles on page loads, using PHP to index a directory and select a random image that gently slides in from the side. This method allows images to be added to rotation without any additional code, simply by placing files within the designated folder.

InsectsUnlocked.org is no longer active, but I have kept an archived version of the site available.

Visit Insects Unlocked (archived)